Name: Al-Husayn ibn
Ali ibn Abi Talib (a.s.)
Fatimah az-Zahra (a.s.), the daughter of the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.).
Al Sibt, Shahid-e-Karbala.
He was born in Madina in the month of Shaban in the year 4 A.H.
He was martyred with his companions by the army of Yazid in the month of
Muharram 61 A.H. His tomb is in Karbala, a town of Iraq.
Imam Hossein (PBUH) was born on
the 3rd of Sha'ban, in 4th year of Hijrah inMedina. When the Prophet (PBUH)
heard the news of Imam Hossein's birth, became very happy and came to the
house of Fatima (PBUH). Asma, the maidservant ofFatima covered the child in
a white cloth and brought him to the Prophet (PBUH). The Prophet (PBUH)
picked the child up in his lap and recited the Azaan in his right ear and
iqamah in the left one. As if, apparently, he (PBUH) made the ears of his
son familiar and acquainted with the name of God for the first time. On the
seventh day of the birth, an angel came from the God and he said, "Just as
Haroon was the brother, sympathizer, and helper in each and every difficulty
of Moses (PBUH) similarly Ali (PBUH) is your sympathizer, helper and brother
in each and every matter of yours. Therefore, keep the name of this child
upon the name of Haroon's son "Shabeer," which translated into Arabic
becomes 'Hossein'. Thus the name of the second child of Fatima (PBUH) was
also selected by God.
Imam Husayn was Imam for a
period of ten years, all but the last six months coinciding with the
caliphate of Mu'awiyah. Imam Husayn lived under the most difficult outward
conditions of suppression and persecution. This was due to the fact that,
first of all, religious laws and regulations had lost much of their weight
and credit, and the edicts of the Umayyad government had gained complete
authority and power. Secondly, Mu'awiyah and his aides made use of every
possible means to put aside and move out of the way the Household of the
Prophet (sawas) and the Shi'ah, and thus obliterate the name of Ali and his
family. And above all, Mu'awiyah wanted to strengthen the basis of the
caliphate of his son, Yazid, who because of his lack of principles and
scruples was opposed by a large group of Muslims. Therefore, in order to
quell all opposition, Mu'awiyah had undertaken newer and more severe
measures. By force and necessity Imam Husayn had to endure these days and to
tolerate every kind of mental and spiritual agony and affliction from
Mu'awiyah and his aides,until in the middle of the year 60 A.H. Mu'awiyah
died and his son Yazid took his place.
Paying allegiance (bay'ah) was
an old Arab practice which was carried out in important matters such as that
of kingship and governorship. Those who were ruled, and especially the well
known among them, would give their hand in alleging, agreement and obedience
to their king or prince and in this way would show their support for his
actions. Disagreement after allegiance was considered as disgrace and
dishonour for a people and it was like breaking an agreement after having
signed it officially, it was considered as a definite crime. Following the
example of the Holy Prophet (sawas), people believed that allegiance, when
given by free will and not through force, carried authority and weight.
Mu'awiyah had asked the
well-known among the people to give their allegiance to Yazid, but had not
imposed this request upon Imam Husayn. He had especially told Yazid in his
last will that if Husayn refused to pay allegiance he should pass over it in
silence and overlook the matter, for he had understood correctly the
disastrous consequences which would follow if the issue were to be pressed.
But because of his egoism and recklessness, Yazid neglected his father's
advice and immediately after the death of his father ordered the governor of
Medina either to force a pledge of allegiance from Imam Husayn or send his
head to Damascus.
After the governor of Medina
informed Imam Husayn of this demand, the Imam, in order to think over the
question, asked for a delay and overnight started with his family toward
Mecca. He sought refuge in the sanctuary of God which in Islam is the
official place of refuge and security. This event occurred toward the end of
the month of Rajab and the beginning of Sha'ban of 60 A.H. For nearly four
months Imam Husayn stayed in Mecca in refuge. This news spread throughout
the Islamic world. On the one hand many people who were tired of the
iniquities of Mu'awiyah's rule and were even more dissatisfied when Yazid
became caliph, corresponded with Imam Husayn and expressed their sympathy
for him. On the other hand a flood of letters began to flow, especially from
Iraq and particularly the city of Kufa, inviting the Imam to go to Iraq and
accept the leadership of the populace there with the aim of beginning an
uprising to overcome injustice and iniquity. Naturally such a situation was
dangerous for Yazid.
The stay of Imam Husayn in Mecca
continued until the season for pilgrimage when Muslims from all over the
world poured in groups into Mecca in order to perform the rites of the hajj.
The Imam discovered that some of the followers of Yazid had entered Mecca as
pilgrims (hajjis) with the mission to kill the Imam during the rites of hajj
with the arms they carried under their special pilgrimage dress (ihram). The
Imam shortened the pilgrimage rites and decided to leave. Amidst the vast
crowd of people he stood up and in a short speech announced that he was
setting out for Iraq. In this short speech he also declared that he would be
martyred and asked Muslims to help him in attaining the goal he had in view
and to offer their lives in the path of God. The next day he set out with
his family and a group of his companions for Iraq.
was determined not to give his allegiance to Yazid and
knew full well that he would be killed. He was aware that his death was
inevitable in the face of the awesome military power of the Umayyads,
supported as it was by corruption in certain sectors, spiritual decline, and
lack of will power among the people, especially in Iraq. Some of the
outstanding people of Mecca stood in the way of Imam Husayn and warned him
of the danger of the move he was making. But he answered that he refused to
pay allegiance and give his approval to a government of injustice and
tyranny. He added that he knew that wherever he turned or went he would be
killed. He would leave Mecca in order to preserve the respect for the house
of God and not allow this respect to be destroyed by having his blood
spilled there. While on the way to Kufa and still a few days' journey away
from the city, he received news that the followers of Yazid in Kufa had put
to death the representative of the Imam in that city and also one of the
Imam's determined supporters who was a well-known man in Kufa. Their feet
had been tied and they had been dragged through the streets. The city and
its surroundings were placed under strict observation and countless soldiers
of the enemy were awaiting him, There was no way open to him but to march
ahead and to face death. It was-here that the Imam expressed his definitive
determination to go ahead and be martyred; and so he continued on his
Approximately seventy kilometres
from Kufa, in a desert named Kerbala, the Imam and his entourage were
surrounded by the army of Yazid. For eight days they stayed in this spot
during which the circle narrowed and the number of the enemy's army
increased. Finally the Imam, with his household and a small numbers of
companions were encircled by an army of thirty thousand soldiers. During
these days the Imam fortified his position and made a final selection of his
companions. At night he called his companions and during a short speech
stated that there was nothing ahead but death and martyrdom. He added that
since the enemy was concerned only with his person he would free them from
all obligations so that anyone who wished could escape in the darkness of
the night and save his life. Then he ordered the lights to be turned out and
most of his companions, who had joined him for their own advantage,
dispersed. Only a handful of those who loved the truth--about forty of his
close aides--and some of the Banu Hashim remained.
Once again the Imam assembled
those who were left and put them to a test. He addressed his companions and
Hashimite relatives, saying again that the enemy was concerned only with his
person. Each could benefit from the darkness of the night and escape the
danger. But this time the faithful companions of the Imam answered each in
his own way that they would not deviate for a moment from the path of truth
of which the Imam was the leader and would never leave him alone. They said
they would defend his household to the last drop of their blood and as long
as they could carry a sword.
On the ninth day of the month
the last challenge to choose between "allegiance or war" was made by the
enemy to the Imam. The Imam asked for a delay in order to worship overnight
and became determined to enter battle on the next day.
On the tenth day of Muharram of
the year 61/680 the Imam lined up before the enemy with his small band of
followers, less than ninety persons consisting of forty of his companions,
thirty some members of the army of the enemy that j joined him during the
night and day of war, and his Hashimite family of children, brothers,
nephews, nieces and cousins. That day they fought from morning until their
final breath, the Imam, the young Hashimites and the companions were all
martyred. Among those killed were two children of Imam Hasan, who were only
thirteen and eleven years old; and a five-year-old child and a suckling baby
of Imam Husayn.
The army of the enemy, after
ending the war, plundered the haram of the Imam and burned his tents. They
decapitated the bodies of the martyrs, denuded them and threw them to the
ground without burial. Then they moved the members of the haram, all of whom
were helpless women and girls, along with the heads of the martyrs, to Kufa.
Among the prisoners there were three male members: a twenty-two year old son
of Imam Husayn who was very ill and unable to move, namely Ali ibn Husayn,
the fourth Imam; his four year old son, Muhammad ibn Ali, who became the
fifth Imam; and finally Hasan Muthanna, the son of the second Imam who was
also the son-in-law of Imam Husayn and who, having been wounded during the
war, lay among the dead. They found him near death and through the
intercession of one of the generals did not cut off his head. Rather, they
took him with the prisoners to Kufa and from there to Damascus before Yazid.
The event of Kerbala, the capture of the women and children of the Household
of the Prophet (sawas), their being taken as prisoners from town to town and
the speeches made by the daughter of Ali; Zaynab, and the fourth Imam who
were among the prisoners, disgraced the Umayyads. Such abuse of the
Household of the Prophet (sawas) annulled the propaganda which Mu'awiyah had
carried out for years. The matter reached such proportions that Yazid in
public disowned and condemned the actions of his agents.
The event of Kerbala was a major
factor in the overthrow of Umayyad rule although its effect was delayed. It
also strengthened the roots of The Followers of Ahlu Bayt. Among its
immediate results were the revolts and rebellions combined with bloody wars
which continued for twelve years. Among those who were instrumental in the
death of the Imam not one was able to escape revenge and punishment. Anyone
who studies closely the history of the life of Imam Husayn and Yazid and the
conditions that prevailed at that time, and analyses this chapter of Islamic
history, will have no doubt that in those circumstances there was no choice
before Imam Husayn but to be killed. Swearing allegiance to Yazid would have
meant publicly showing contempt for Islam, something which was not possible
for the Imam, for Yazid not only showed no respect for Islam and its
injunctions but also made a public demonstration of impudently, treading
under foot its basis and its laws. Those before him, even if they opposed
religious injunctions, always did so in the guise of religion, and at least
formally respected religion. They took pride in being companions of the Holy
Prophet (sawas) and the other religious figures in whom people believed.
From this it can be concluded that the claim of some interpreters of these
events is false when they say that the two brothers, Hasan and Husayn, had
two different tastes and that one chose the way of peace and the other the
way of war, so that one brother made peace with Mu'awiyah although he had an
army of forty thousand while the other went to war against Yazid with an
army of forty. For we see that this same Imam Husayn, who refused to pay
allegiance to Yazid for one day, lived for ten years under the rule of
Mu'awiyah, in the same manner as his brother who also had endured for ten
years under Mu'awiyah, without opposing him.
It must be said in truth that if
Imam Hasan or Imam Husayn had fought Mu'awiyah they would have been killed
without there being the least benefit for Islam. Their deaths would have had
no effect before the righteous appearing policy of Mu'awiyah, a competent
politician who emphasised his being a companion of the Holy Prophet (sawas),
the "scribe of the revelation," and "uncle of the faithful" and who used
every stratagem possible to preserve a religious guise for his rule.
Moreover, with his ability to set the stage to accomplish his desires he
could have had them killed by their own people and then assumed a state of
mourning and sought to revenge their blood, just as he sought to give the
impression that he was avenging the killing of the third caliph.
Excellenes of Imam Hussain (as)
Hassan (as) and Hossein (as) are the leaders of
the Youths of Paradise.
Hassan (as) is from me and I am from Hossein (as), Allah befriends those who
befriend Hossein (PBUH) and He is the enemy of those who bear enmity to him.
Whoever wishes to see such a person who lives on earth but whose dignity is
honored by the Heaven dwellers should see my grandson Hossein (as).
O my son! your flesh is my flesh and your blood is my blood, your are a
leader, the son of a leader and the brother of a leader; your are a
spiritual guide, the son of a spiritual guide and the brother of a spiritual
guide; you are an Apostolical Imam, the son of an Apostolical Imam and the
brother of an Apostolical Imam; your are the father of nine Imams, the ninth
of whom would be the Oa"im (the last infallible spiritual guide).
The punishment inflicted on the murderer of Hossein (as) in Hell would be
equal to half of the total punishment to be imposed on the entire sinners of
Holy Prophet (as) informed
Hazrat Fatima of the Martyrdom in store for his
grandson, she burst into tears and asked, "O my father! When would my son be
martyred?" "In such a critical moment," he replied," When neither I nor you,
nor Ali would be alive. " This accentuated her grief and she inquired
again," Who then, O my father, would commemorate Hossein"s martyrdom?" The
Holy Prophet (as) said, "The men and the women of a particular sect of my
followers, who will befriend my Ahl-ul-Bayt, will mourn for Hossein and
commemorate his martyrdom each year in every century."